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Why Did Texas Drop a $5.4 Million Lawsuit Against Trump University?

Flickr/Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Did Greg Abbott drop a lawsuit against Donald Trump for political gain?

From Texas Standard:

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the state's attorney general, he worked on a lawsuit against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump – then a Republican businessman entering the political sphere on another bid for the highest office in America.

It was 2012 and the top law enforcement official in the state was overseeing a consumer protection team building a suit against Trump University, which had bilked Texas taxpayers out of $2.6 million.

The consumer protection team built a $5.4 million dollar case against Trump, but Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News says the lawsuit was never filed.


McGaughy found John Owens, a former attorney general staffer, who alleged that the suit was ready to go, right before getting shut down by the higher-ups.

"In the suit there's pretty incredible allegations,” McGaughy says. “It was strong. They were going to seek millions of dollars in restitution for Texas taxpayers but then, all the sudden, they were told that the lawsuit wasn't going to go anywhere."

Owens, the deputy director of the consumer protection division under Abbott, claims that it was a political decision at the top of the agency to not sue Trump, because he was a figure in Republican politics.

Owens told McGaughy that the decision not to do anything stunk. Although he can’t confirm that the decision was made directly by Abbott, Owens says the recommendation for the lawsuit went up to the eighth floor, which is where all the bigwigs in the attorney general's office work and never made it back down. It’s unclear who ultimately spiked it.

Although Abbott’s spokesperson denies any connection between chucking the Trump case and his boss's future political plans, Abbott received about $35,000 total in campaign money from Trump in 2013 and 2014, when Abbott was running for governor.

In a statement to the Dallas Morning News, the spokesperson said that the desired outcome was for Trump University to leave Texas.

“He hasn't yet addressed why the lawsuit wasn't taken up,” McGaughy says. “That is something we don't know."

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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